Final Series Golf 2013: Predicting Race to Dubai Winner After HSBC Champions

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor INovember 3, 2013

SHANGHAI, CHINA - NOVEMBER 03:  Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland in action during the final round of the WGC - HSBC Champions at the Sheshan International Golf Club on November 3, 2013 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The WGC-HSBC Champions tournament reached its conclusion on Sunday evening, with American Dustin Johnson claiming a tremendous victory with a score of minus-24 over 72 holes.

The tournament, though, was highly important for a number of players competing for places at the European Tour's end-of-season event in Dubai. At the very top of the list, it has also helped alter the dynamics in the race for first place.

However, with BBC Sport reporting that second-ranked Graeme McDowell will miss the one remaining event in Turkey, it would appear that Henrik Stenson is set to top the rankings heading into Dubai.

Race to Dubai Standings
RankPlayerNationalityPrize Money (€)
1Henrik StensonSweden2,203,260
2Graeme McDowellN. Ireland2,097,395
3Justin RoseEngland1,878,160
4Ian PoulterEngland1,660,738
5Gonzalo Fernandez-CastanoSpain1,559,492
6Richard SterneSouth Africa1,398,888
7Matteo ManasseroItaly1,327,323
8Thongchai JaideeThailand1,317,190
9Thomas BjornSweden1,289,213
10Sergio GarciaSpain1,280,581
European Tour

Given that the prize money on offer at the Turkish Airlines Open will top $1 million, according to organisers, there is still an outside chance that Stenson could be caught by Justin Rose—currently lying in third place.

Rose will compete in Turkey but will need to win the competition if he is to have any realistic chance of catching Stenson or even McDowell ahead of the tournament in Dubai.

Thus, it would appear that Stenson is set to be rewarded for his great season with the top spot on the European Tour leaderboard this year.

The Swede may not have won any of the 15 tournaments that he has entered on the European tour this year, but a run of four top-three finishes in July and August would appear to have seen him through to the end of the year.

Among those four tournaments were top-three finishes at The Open and at the USPGA, results which have contributed more than half of his prize money on tour this year.

However, Stenson will be aware that his earnings will mean nothing when it comes to Dubai. As the field begins to take shape, it is clear that competition to the world No. 1 will be fierce.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy's top-10 finish in Shanghai has sealed his place, per the European Tour, while Ian Poulter, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Rose will all be among the fancied contenders at the DP World Tour Championship.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 31:  Henrik Stenson of Sweden looks on during the first round of the WGC-HSBC Champions at the Sheshan International Golf Club on October 31, 2013 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

With $8 million on offer at the Tour Championship, Rose will feel that two strong finishes will see him to the overall title. McDowell has a great opportunity also, if he can finish highly in Dubai.

However, with Stenson competing at both remaining events, the Swede is very much the man to beat and could give himself an almost unassailable lead with a win in Turkey. A poor finish, though, and the race is any of the trio's for the taking.